PARIS (Jan. 21)
French Defense Minister Michel Debre disclosed Wednesday to the National Assembly Defense Committee that France will sell 100 military aircraft, including 80 Mirage jets, to Libya. It was learned meanwhile that a deal has been made in which the French air force will train Libyan and other Arab pilots. France will sell 30 Mirage jet fighters and 20 training planes to Libya in addition to the 50 other Mirages previously announced. M. Debre told the committee that trainers could also fly reconnaissance missions.
It was apparent with the announcement that France will seek to build a powerful Arab air arm, assisting the Arab states just as the French previously–prior to 1967–aided Israel. The additional 30 Mirage jets are of the 3-E type, the most advanced series. They are equipped with the latest doppler radar which enables flight at low altitude in zero visibility. This enables the jets to hit ground targets in any weather. Libya agreed in return for the air power buildup to stop supporting the leftist rebellion in Chad where rebels are fighting the French Foreign Legion.